Like any other form of intellectual property, a business logo is entitled to legal protection against copying. Depending on the form of the logo, the proper protection may be a copyright, a trademark, or both. The choice depends on whether the protection applies only to the visual aspects of the logo or to the business name as well.
Determine whether you want protection for the logo only or the logo as well as the business name. To protect the business name, it should meet the test of uniqueness to be eligible for trademark or service mark status. (See "References" below.)
For copyright protection, contact the United States Copyright office. Most copyright forms can be completed online. Form VA, which is the form which most likely will apply to a business logo, can also be obtained in paper form by request. (See "Resources" below.)
For trademark or service mark protection of the business name along with the logo, contact the United States Trademark Office. This registration must be completed separately from copyright registration.
- If you hired someone to create your business logo and did not contract it as a work made for hire, the contractor or consultant owns the copyright or trademark, not you.
- Do a search for similar trademarks or service marks before attempting to register your business logo with the trademark office.
- Copyright or trademark protection should be registered from the date of creation of the business logo.
- In addition to registering your business logo, you should also attach a copyright and/or trademark notification whenever you use your logo online or in promotional materials.